Category Archives: Smile

Biting into Beauty (and Celebrating a Birthday!) with Custom Lipstick

If you know me well, you’re aware that I love birthdays—my own and others’. I think we all deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated on this special day. Another year of life, love, and experience is truly something to celebrate! (Take a look back at this blog post for more on why I think we should all set aside time to savor and celebrate birthdays, no matter how many candles are on the cake.)

Whenever I can, I try to find ways to celebrate birthdays that aren’t standard gift exchanges. In my experience, it’s much more fulfilling and memorable to spend meaningful time with family and friends. Last month, I had the opportunity to do just that with my good friend Donna. To celebrate our birthdays (which are only a week apart), Donna and I made an appointment at BITE Beauty Lip Lab in SoHo, New York City, where we were able to design and purchase lipstick. Afterward, we shopped at Deco Jewels and had dinner at one of our favorite spots, Gotham Bar and Grill.

Sharing this adventure with Donna was so much fun, and I’ll be recommending BITE Beauty Lip Lab to friends and clients who would like to have a custom-colored lipstick. Here’s a look at our lipstick-designing experience:

First, our assistant showed us pots of color and asked us to choose a few shades we liked best. I chose warm tones in peach and coral that I knew would complement my skin tone. Donna, who prefers cool colors, chose pinks and rose tones.

We also had four textures to choose from, starting with glossy and finishing with matte. Donna chose gloss, and I picked a satin finish. Both had a creamy texture and went on well.

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Once Donna and I had picked our preliminary colors and textures, our assistant mixed what we’d chosen and gave us a little brush so that we could try on the lipstick. She continued to mix samples with different combinations of colors until we were satisfied with our shade. Since my lips have a lot of natural pigment, we added more warm tones to my shade so that it wouldn’t look too pink when worn.

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The next step was choosing the lipstick’s flavor. I wanted something very light and chose vanilla with a drop of mint. No fruity flavors for me! I loved that the Lip Lab provided samples of real fruit and herbs to represent each flavor.

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Now we were ready to mix our creations. The correct combination of color and flavor pods went into a machine that looked like a centrifuge.

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Once our assistant confirmed that the final mixed color matched our samples, she poured the lipstick mixture into a mold to dry. Then the lipstick was placed in a tube, and we were ready to go! At $35 a tube for quality, customized lipstick, I thought this experience was well worth the money—especially because it was a lot of fun to do with my good friend.

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Since creating my lipstick, I have worn it several times. The color is saturated and stays on well. As we move into spring and summer, I look forward to trying various gloss colors on top of it.

If you’re in the New York City area and decide to visit BITE Beauty Lip Lab, I’d love to hear about your experience!

The Second Interview Blues: Advice for Mature Job Seekers

Whether you want a greater challenge, a better fit, increased financial security, or a new start after surviving the economic turbulence of the past few years, there are many reasons why you might be looking for a new job. But unlike younger job seekers, you may be concerned about the effect your age might have on your chances of being hired. What if employers pass you up because they believe that you’ll retire soon, you’ll increase their health insurance costs, or your experience is based on outdated industry knowledge and tactics?

If you’re in your 60s, 50s, or even 40s, it’s tempting to blame your birth date for the fact that you aren’t getting called back for second interviews in spite of ample qualifications and what you thought was a good first interview. But the truth is, your birth date may have less to do with the situation than you think.

As I always tell my clients, you are communicating before you open your mouth to speak, so it’s important to make sure that every aspect of your look is saying what you want to be saying. You should put as much thought and consideration into your body language, clothing, and grooming as you do into prepping answers to interview questions.

Since it takes an average of a year for workers 55 and older to find work (longer than any other age group!), it’s especially important to consider in detail the impression you’re making on potential employers.

Based on advice I give my clients (male and female!) who want to refine their images during a job search, here are four reasons why you might not be getting that second interview:

Your body language and manners aren’t saying what you want them to. It’s smart to evaluate how your body language and manners might look to someone else and to make a conscious effort to speak the physical language of confidence and capability during job interviews. I recommend that you:

  • Have good posture when walking in and sitting at the interview. Also, keep your arms at your sides and not crossed in front while standing, and keep your hands in your lap when sitting. Keeping your chest open sends the message that you are open and receptive.
  • Show confidence, interest, and alacrity as you engage in the interview. Have a pleasant, relaxed look on your face and focus on meeting your interviewer with a firm handshake. During the interview, meet the interviewer’s eyes and try to refrain from mannerisms that might connote nervousness or insecurity, such as wringing your hands, picking at the material of your pants or skirt, biting your lip, etc. And don’t forget to smile—you want the interviewer to know you’re enthusiastic about the job opportunity!
  • Be mannerly—but not overly so. Specifically, make sure that the way you treat other people doesn’t make you seem disinterested or diffident. You shouldn’t dispense with courtesy, but be aware that being too polite, laid-back, soft-spoken, and self-effacing can be misinterpreted as a lack of confidence.

You are dressed inappropriately. While many of my clients understand the basics of interview attire and etiquette, I often find that there are small details they aren’t aware of or are overlooking. Here are some “hazards” you should avoid:

  • Trying to appear too youthful. Try to convey youthfulness with your attitude and ideas, not your wardrobe. Women, stay away from “sexy” pieces and/or those that show too much skin. Men, avoid overly trendy suits, such as those with matchstick trousers.
  • Ill-fitting clothing. Clothing that doesn’t fit well (too tight, too short, or too large) not only detracts from your look; it can also make you feel uncomfortable. You don’t want to be pulling at the hem of your skirt throughout the interview or be distracted by the fact that your shoes pinch! And you don’t want your interviewer to remember you because your pants were too short, for instance, or because they puddled over your shoes.
  • Dressing for the wrong time or place. Dated suits and shoes can work against you by conveying that you’re stuck in the past. And remember that fashions, as well as ideas of what’s in good taste, do vary from place to place. For instance, an office in Boston might expect different attire from an office in Los Angeles. And if you’ve ever lived abroad, the differences might be even more pronounced.

Your look is distracting. At an interview, you always want the person with whom you are interacting to be looking at your face and eyes—not your clothes—and listening to what you are saying. Above all, your look should be congruent. You don’t want your interviewer to be looking at your statement tie, your patterned stockings, your jewelry, your elaborate hairstyle, or your cleavage while you’re talking. Before your interview, look at yourself in the mirror to make sure that one element of your outfit doesn’t stand out compared to the others. While every job applicant wants to stand out from the crowd, at the interview stage it’s best not to do so via your look. Instead, focus on setting yourself apart by how you present yourself, your experience, and your potential.

You aren’t well groomed. When it comes to personal grooming, nothing is too small to overlook. As applicable, make sure that:

  • Your hair is in place and that you’re not touching it nervously.
  • Your facial hair is well groomed.
  • Your nose hair is not showing.
  • Your body odor is not noticeable and/or you’re not sweating through your clothing.
  • Your fragrance isn’t overly strong—your perfume or cologne shouldn’t enter the room before you do!
  • Your teeth aren’t yellow. Yellow teeth say, “I’m old!” while white teeth convey vitality. (Crest Whitestrips are quite effective if you don’t want to go to your dentist for whitening.)
  • Your nails and cuticles are groomed.
  • Your nail polish isn’t chipped or flashy. Play it safe and wear a nude or pale polish.
  • Your shoes are polished and your heels aren’t worn down.
  • Your clothing isn’t faded, worn, or pilled.

Above all, remember that the best thing you can add to your interview look is confidence. If you’re feeling pessimistic or defeated (which may be the case if you have been unemployed for a while), an impeccable outfit won’t be able to mask your attitude. Before going into your interview, do whatever you need to do in order to revive yourself and boost your energy. Listen to an upbeat song, read a motivational quote, or call your spouse or a friend for a pep talk. Even the simple act of hydrating with a glass of water can help!

When you walk into an interview feeling comfortable and confident, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. And you’ll also be one step closer to getting that coveted job offer.

You Are What You Feel: Six Ways to Rev Up Your Sex Appeal This Valentine’s Day

Cupid is calling, and Valentine’s Day is almost here again. Maybe you have some special plans in the works: a romantic getaway, attending a show or event, or simply hiring a babysitter so that you and your spouse can go to a restaurant that doesn’t give out crayons with the placemats.

However, if you’re like many women, you may not be feeling that excited. Chances are, carpool drop-offs, client meetings, and that laundry list a mile long have left you feeling anything but romantic. The truth is, we spend so much time being caught up in the everyday rat race that we often forget to take the time to make ourselves and our partners feel special.

If you ask me, that’s exactly why February 14th is the perfect opportunity to give your look, and your confidence, a little boost. If you can create an outfit that makes you look romantic and sexy, that va-va-voom will translate into how you feel as well.

The trick to looking romantic for this special day is simple: Just shake things up a bit. Straying from your usual wardrobe, whether through vibrant new colors or special accessories and styling, will make you look and feel sexier. Here are six ways to get started:

Get dressed from the inside out. Before celebrating Valentine’s Day, take a few minutes to relax and focus on your inner beauty. After all, it’s hard to feel sexy when you’re frazzled from rushing around. If possible, plan ahead so that you can take your time getting ready. Now’s the time to clear your calendar, send your kids off to the sitter a little early, and indulge in some pampering so that you’ll be centered and calm before your big night out. Not only will you feel more confident, you’ll also look more refreshed and be ready to enjoy your Valentine’s Day on the inside and the outside.

Focus on the first layer. Before deciding on the perfect outfit, spend some extra time getting ready by layering on your favorite perfume and body lotion. Choose a fun new nail polish color, and finish off the “look” with a matching bra and pair of panties that you feel great in. Trust me, focusing on the details of your foundation will make you feel great and put together—and it will show.

Opt for not-so-basic black. Many of us love to wear black: It’s slimming, sophisticated, and sexy. So especially if you have a lot of black in your closet already, aim for a style in your favorite shade that’s different from what you would normally wear. Try a shirt with a lower neckline, a pencil skirt with a ruffled hemline, or a tailored jacket in a sexy silk or satin. Wearing something outside of the norm will make you feel beautiful on Valentine’s Day, and as a bonus, you’ll still be able to wear it for many other occasions.

Wrap yourself in winter white. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to wear winter white, which is one of my all-time favorite looks. Whether you choose a dress, pantsuit, or a top and skirt combination, my best advice is to choose your accessories carefully. Pearls or crystal jewelry make a great pairing with this wintry hue, as does a simple metallic or neutral color shoe and handbag. (And if you’re wearing a skirt or dress, be sure to opt for nude stockings!) You will look glamorous and feel beautiful: Be prepared to get second looks!

See red. Red is a bold, sexy color that is often admired, and yet few people dare to wear it. Try incorporating red into your Valentine’s Day ensemble—you can tone down the accessories to balance its boldness if you wish. Wear a black strappy shoe, simple earrings, and choose a small black handbag. If red is not a color you feel comfortable in, you can still dress off the beaten path by trying something in a pink or purple hue. Play around with different combinations before your big night out—mix a beautiful purple or pink top with a simple black skirt or a skinny black pant, for instance—to find the outfit that makes you feel beautiful.

Shake things up a bit. Looking great and feeling special on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to break your budget. There are plenty of tricks to make your look extra special that can be done without spending a dime. For example, styling your hair in soft curls or a sleek up-do creates a romantic look and costs you no more than a little extra time! You might also try a daring new shade of nail polish or a darker eye shadow to create a sexy, smoky look for your eyes. Finally, consider a trip to your favorite department store to visit a makeup artist—a service most stores offer for free! The trick is to just do something different. No matter what you do, getting out of your everyday routine will make you feel extra special, and that’s all that matters.

Looking great on Valentine’s Day all comes down to how you feel. If you feel confident, relaxed, and happy, it will show—no matter what your outfit looks like. Take some time out of your busy schedule to pamper yourself when Valentine’s Day rolls around this year. Your positive vibe and sexy attitude will be contagious. It just may be the best gift you give yourself, and your partner, this year.

Want to instantly improve your look? Add a smile!

During the years I have been an image consultant, I have identified one thing that always helps a person to improve his or her look, regardless of body type, coloring, or personal style. The thing I’m talking about is a smile, which is always free and always accessible.

That said, it surprises me how many people don’t top off their looks with a smile. When I am crossing 57th Street on my way to work each day, I take in all of the people I pass. And I am often shocked by all of the scowls I see! Instead of open, friendly, positive expressions, the sidewalk is dominated by intense, closed-off faces.

I think that a lot of people have never stopped to think about the role that smiles play in their lives and just how important they are. If that’s the case for you, consider the following:

  • When it comes to first impressions, people often notice your facial expression first. Then they move on to what you’re wearing, how well you’re groomed, and whether or not your shoes are polished.
  • Greeting someone with a smile can influence the tone of an entire conversation or meeting.
  • People who don’t speak your language can still understand a smile. I know from experience that smiling can smooth a lot of interactions when you’re traveling to other countries!
  • If you’re on the listening end of a discussion, a smile is a quiet message you can send to the other person to let him or her know that you care or that you understand.

The next time you go out or have a conversation with someone, try not to be a “frowner.” Understand that in order to smile more, you must be comfortable with and confident in yourself. When you’re happy about who you are and the situation you are in, your face will genuinely reflect those feelings and you’ll project positive vibes. You’ll even start to feel better, because authentic smiles cause your body to release endorphins, which boost your mood and produce a sense of well-being.

Whatever you do, don’t hide behind a giant, fake grin! (You know the kind I’m talking about.) Those exaggerated expressions are overbearing and off-putting, and people can usually see right through them. Plus, it’s exhausting not to be authentic.

So tomorrow morning as you’re getting ready for your day, remember the catchy song from the musical Annie: “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile.” It’s true!

Birthdays Are Back in Style

In my observation, birthday celebrations can become less and less exciting as we age. When we were children, we anxiously looked forward to each birthday for weeks, daydreaming about the gifts we hoped to receive and planning exactly what we wanted to do on our special day.

But as we age, almost without thinking about it, our birthdays take on a different overtone. When asked about gift ideas, we’re more likely to ask for things we need instead of things we want, and we’re lucky to squeeze in a dinner at a favorite restaurant in an increasingly busy schedule. And for most people, birthdays are the dreaded day that means they have to add one more year to their age, and hope that nobody else even remembers it.

Well, friends, I have news for you: Genuinely enjoying your birthday is back in style!

Why shouldn’t birthdays still be exciting and fun when we’re grown up? Getting older is great news. It means that you’ve lived through another year and are gearing up for one that has prospects to be even better. Personally, I absolutely love my birthday—it’s the most important day of my year. Actually, my friends and family do such an excellent job of making me feel special that I’m usually still going out for celebratory lunches and dinners a month afterward.

Since my own birthdays are my most important day in each year, I try to help my family, friends, and clients feel that way about their birthdays, too. I keep a list of everyone’s birthdates and make sure to remember them with a card, email, or call. Above all, I want the people I care about to know that they are valued.

Recently, I planned a dinner to celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was so refreshing to have friends and family stand up and tell him what they thought of him and what he meant in their lives. Afterward, I told my husband that it was almost like being present at his own eulogy, but in a much, much happier setting (and, of course, he was able to hear what everyone said!). What a great gift it was for him to be told how special he is to so many people. It was my extra special treat when my husband later told me that I had given him the best birthday he had ever had in his life.

From now on, I hope that you’ll decide to look at birthdays as opportunities to celebrate life!

So, How Are You?: Striking the Balance Between “Real” and “Rant”

Think about it: When you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while (whether it’s been a month or a day!) or even when you meet someone new, what do you say? Chances are, you stick with the tried-and-true “Hi, how are you?” (For most of us, it’s sheer reflex.)

Usually, the answer to this old standby is short and sweet. In fact, we generally expect a reply along the lines of “Very well, thank you.” Sometimes, though, a friend or acquaintance can go into a lot more depth about how her day is progressing—no matter how good or bad that might be! And (let’s face it) it’s those people, the ones who detail how tired, busy, or just plain bad-off they are, who can really make you regret asking at all. And what most people fail to realize is that your answer to this very simple question will either draw people in or scare them away.

The lesson here is clear: When you’re on the answering end, try not to respond to “How are you?” in a negative manner. (This is especially important with new acquaintances—first impressions are a big deal.) Responding negatively presents you in a less-than-ideal light and gives people the sense that you’re a real drag. And if you do it often enough, people just might stop asking you how things are going altogether (and start avoiding you instead).

The next time someone inquires about your day, challenge yourself to be real without descending into a pit of negativity. Use it as an opportunity to further that connection, rather than as a chance to dump your own personal problems on someone else. And yes, you can do that without being ultra-sweet, as I’ve noticed some women feel the need to do. Believe me, it’s completely possible to put a positive spin on an answer that’s still honest. Here are a few examples:

Busy, busy! It’s a given that most of us are busier than ever. Our calendars are so full that we barely have time to blink. But that doesn’t mean others want to hear the details of your schedule! In fact, turning into a verbal datebook may come off as a venting session and give the impression that you’re really too busy to talk. Believe me, I know—I’m so busy planning my wedding that I have to put a little effort into making sure I’m not unintentionally sending out busy vibes when I’m telling others about my day. Here are some fun ways to respond to those how-are-yous the next time you’re feeling the urge to complain about how busy you are:

  • Humor never hurts! In a joking manner, say, “Hanging on by a sheer thread! How are you?”
  • “I’ve been busy, but busy is good for business!”
  • “I’ve never been so busy—but I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
  • “You know me—always on the move!”
  • Relate it to something personal (in my case, that would be my wedding) and say, “This wedding planning is a full-time job, but it’s been a lot fun!”
  • “You know, I’m really busy right now. But I feel very lucky to be so busy!”

Yawn. Let me tell you how tired I am. So you just downed your fourth cup of coffee when some smiley, energetic person comes at you with a how’s-it-going? Perhaps it’s your first week back at work after the new baby, or maybe you’re still recovering from daylight savings time. Even though you may feel that you don’t even have the energy to address the question, try to rally with one of these responses:

 

  • “I’m still recovering from the fantastic concert, movie, etc. that I watched last night. Let me tell you about it!”
  • “A little sleepy, but thank the Lord for caffeine!”
  • “I got to stay up late holding my baby last night, so I’m a little tired, but I’m so blessed I can’t complain.”

 

Ugh…I really don’t feel like talking. There are times when we just don’t have much to say. Maybe you’re tired, busy, or just not in the mood to have a conversation. Know that it’s perfectly fine to keep your answer short and sweet. (Plus, the person asking how you’re doing may very well be reaching out just to be polite, anyway!) So when you’re feeling antisocial, simply say, “Never better!” or, “I’m fantastic!” Voilà! Question answered.

 

Ultimately, we’re all asked quite a few questions throughout the day, so don’t stress over greeting others. Remember that when you’re asked how you’re doing, it’s not an opportunity to vent! Instead, keep your casual conversations positive. And don’t forget that a simple smile can dress up any conversation.